Monday, December 22, 2008
A Legend in My Own Time
by Shirley Bahlmann
I didn't know I was a legend until last Tuesday when I sat in front of Snow College Professor Bruce Peterson at my son's school Christmas program. Between songs, Peterson leaned forward and tapped me on the shoulder. I looked up from my book (which I read between songs) to see him smiling down at me. "Do you know what I remember about you?" he asked.
Now that was a loaded question if I ever heard one! So many possibilities ran through my brain that I was dizzy when I answered, "No. What?" I wondered if there were any other seats I could move to in the jam-packed gymnasium once he revealed some terrible deed of my past.
"You were reading a paperback book in a college class. When the teacher called on you to answer a question, you looked up, answered it, and went right back to reading."
"Oh," I said, not specifically remembering the incident.
"The teacher stood there with his mouth open," Peterson laughed. "I was amazed. The whole class was. I didn't even know the answer, and I'd been listening. So now, every year I tell my students about you, and say that they can do whatever they want as long as they're getting the information. If they can answer the questions, then they can read or draw or listen to music or whatever. But if they can't, then they have to do it my way."
"You tell all your classes about me?" I asked, my eyebrows disappearing into my hairline.
"Yeah. I just thought that was so great when you did that. You taught me that everyone learns differently."
"Cool," I said. "Thanks for telling me." Then I turned around, my eyes falling on the sweet adventure of the written word.
It's really kind of exciting that you never know when you'll do something that impacts someone else. I just happened to find out because I was just being my weird self, reading books in my spare time everywhere I go.
Sometimes I'll sing a bit of song in the grocery store. Sometimes I do high kicks when I'm walking down the street. I don't know why. But if you ever see an urban setting and people on the street break out into a series of random high kicks, then you'll know that Shirley has achieved legend status once again.